Second Sunday of Trinity – Sermon 278

7th January 2019 Off By Derek

Second Sunday of Trinity –
10.00am Holy Communion
25th June 2017

Prayer to start 

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ                                                                              AMEN

INTRODUCTION

What’s the most frequent command Jesus gives us in the Bible?

Love God?  Love our neighbours?

Say your prayers? – tell others about the Gospel?

All very important –

But the most frequent command He uses – is the one found three times in our Gospel reading this morning –

Do not be afraid –

Fear is something that gets to us all – at some time or other – whether – its through the risk of being hurt – or trapped – even losing our lives – in circumstances we feel we have no control over –

overcoming illnesses or disabilities – that might severely restrict or change our wellbeing –

doing something new or different – beyond our capabilities – stepping out of our comfort zone

Fear can – make us feel vulnerable – less able than we actually are – less capable than we might be –

As Christians we are called to live holy lives – to go forward in faith – overcome our anxieties and fears – and follow Jesus wherever and whenever He leads –  but such things are often more easily said than done –

Point 1         Jeremiah’s Lament

In our OT reading we have a passage that is sometimes described as Jeremiah’s Lament

Jeremiah has often been described as – the prophet of doom of gloom – He proclaimed God’s word boldly – but it wasn’t an easy message to give out

God chose him to uproot and tear down – to destroy and overthrow – to build and to plant – and to accomplish this he had only one resource – his mouth – but even with that he didn’t stride forward – he barely hung on and wanted out of the job –

He never learned to like his role – throughout his ministry he remained reluctant – insecure – unhappy – he feared death – wearied of ridicule – hated standing alone against the crowd – and he told God how he felt –

He desperately wanted his people to listen to him – to take him seriously – to learn from God – and be spared of the pain of judgment and a life lived in exile – But they were hostile towards him – they beat him – put him in stocks – humiliate him in front of the world –

he felt victimized not only by his peers – but also sometimes by God – so much so that when he did speak out he felt that God wasn’t always backing him up – and when he didn’t speak – he wasn’t comforted – because God’s word was like a fire burning inside him – wanting to get out –

Jeremiah’s only encouragement from God was his promise to support and uphold him against those who opposed him – and this he did

And when others might reel at the prospect of what lies ahead – Jeremiah turns to prayer – In his Lament we see him opening his heart out to God –

He was a giant of his time –not because he was able to persuade his hearers to listen to the word of God – but – because of the firmness and consistency with which he stuck to giving out God’s message –

Despite all the opposition he faced –  he came to realized that having God on his side was like having a mighty Champion in his corner – that the despair he felt – was not necessarily an enemy to his faith –but a pathway to spiritual growth and understanding –

Jeremiah’s doom and gloom was eventually overtaken by hope and joy – confident that God’s presence will make him strong enough to face whatever came before him –  

The message from Jeremiah – is that our burning desire – to serve God must remain stronger – and firmer – than the fear or the strain of anything that we might come up against in our journey of faith

point 2         Messengers of the King  – (urgency)

In our Gospel reading- Jesus is preparing His disciples for the opposition – they will face – as they go out to spread His Gospel message –

He gives them a simple check list – to help them in their mission –

no servant is above his master –

there is nothing covered up that will not be uncovered

You are to give the truth – to those who will listen – and what you say must be shouted from the rooftops 

fear what God can do –  more than what man can do –

the voice of the people – is not the voice of God – I am – says Jesus – Whatever you do for me – you are doing for God

you are more precious to God than you could ever imagine –

you will face opposition –  even from within your own families –

Remember the promises I have made to you – take up your cross and follow my ways –

Jesus’ sharp challenges are matched by equally remarkable promises – made to those who accept Him and live – by His challenges –

God knows and cares about the details in our lives – and as we face the dangers and temptations that surround us – we need to remember that the one we are serving is stronger than the strongest opponent we will ever meet –

Jesus’ central message – is one of priorities – He came to begin – and establish a new way of living for God’s people – and those that were happy with the old way – and who didn’t want it disturbed –  were in for a shock – for them division was bound to follow –

God wants us to see beyond our present situation – that as His followers we might be shunned – bypassed – isolated – talked about – ridiculed – mocked- considered strange – joked about – But we must remain faithful and strong – to His ways

It was no different for His disciples – and although – Peter denied Him – Judas betrayed Him – the rest ran away and hid when He was crucified – for them – and for us the challenge remains – and the message is urgent – and it needs to be proclaimed loud and clear –

we are to embrace everything – demand everything – offer everything – knowing that Jesus will fulfil everything He promised – the results are not our ultimate responsibility – our job is to deliver the message – not to worry about the results –

And following Jesus will bring division – it will also bring an amazing discovery – as we learn from our passage in Romans –

Point 3         Romans –

Paul has gone to great lengths in his earlier chapters to explain the work of the cross.  And here he reminds the Romans that it is more than just a single event – that allows them to return to their old ways – He describes our lives before and after we become followers of Jesus – and uses the visible and public sign of baptism- to explain the difference –

The old life is dead – crucified – its bondage- its shame – its wrongdoing and guilt – the power of sin in our lives has been broken – by Jesus

That in itself would be good news – but there’s more – through the resurrection there is also the power to live a new life in Christ –

Our relationship with God –doesn’t just mean the absence of sin- but also the presence of God himself to empower us for each moment of the day –

All this means new hope – new life – a new beginning – because we now walk each day with his presence and power transforming our lives – enabling us to live a different way –

And the certainty of all this – brings with it

an overwhelming presence of joy and peace and love – that only Jesus can bring –

Today we live in a world that seems to have lost its way – Jesus commands us – to live our faith in everything we do – to show that being one of his followers is something wonderful – so wonderful that we want everyone to share it –

And for such a transformation there can be no turning back to old ways – The only way is forward into this new life we have been given – acting on what we know to be true –

sometimes it will be easy –  sometimes hard – sometimes we will surprise ourselves – when something we do inspires someone to listen – 

Sometimes we don’t feel we are gifted enough – but its not our ability – but our availability – that matters –

There are times when we might back away and hide – but that’s still OK – because when we are weak and admit it to God – His strength and forgiveness will lift us up again –

The seeds of God’s kingdom and proof of His love – are all around us – bursting into new life – God will remind us of it – and show us that we are all part of it too –

Ending

The fear of what can happen to us – can prevent us from doing many things – not least moving forward – in our Christian journey with Jesus –

Jesus calls us – to speak out boldly about our faith – so that others will take their lead from Him –

The Christian life can be a mixture of battle and blessing – and when we get anxious and fearful about our part in it and about what will happen next – we just have to remember whose we are – and who we belong to – and that with Jesus – our future is assured.

Prayer to Finish

AMEN